I’d never actually set up a cheese-board for a large group until very recently. Like most people, I’ve served crackers and cheese with a few grapes at the end of a dinner party, but nothing on the scale I was doing this week.
It took me a while to get it set up, but I was delighted at the end to see that it had been fairly-well picked over and there was nothing other than a few lettuce leaves and grapes left over. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the completed piece – I didn’t want to add the really smelly cheeses too early in case I contaminated the whole lot – and by the tine I’d added them, the visitors had started to eat! However, I’ve got a few ‘in-progress’ pictures to give you an idea of what I was up to. Now that I’ve done this once, I’ll definitely do it again when I’m having a crowd.
As usual, I’ll tell you what I did, and encourage you to put the stuff you like in, and leave out what you don’t!
Here’s the story of my Cheeseboard for about 30 people –
- One very large platter or food board – I used my Mum’s Turkey plate, which is the biggest serving dish I’ve got.
- A sharp, slightly serrated knife
- A couple of tongs or cheese forks, to allow people to help themselves.
- A large, clean cotton tea towel – wet with cold water and squeezed to remove the excess.
INGREDIENTS: Here’s what I used:
- One supermarket portion of Brie
- One of ‘Chilli Cheddar’ (that’s the smelly one I mentioned earlier)
- One Goat’s Cheese
- One Blue Cheese (I used Wicklow Blue)
- One Edam
- 1 Wensleydale with Apricots (I love this!)
- 2-3 peaches or nectarines, cut into wedges
- A handful of radishes – sliced
- Red and Green grapes, cut into groups of 2-3 grapes
- Labels to name the cheeses
- One head of Cos or other lettuce, washed and dried.
- Keep all your cheese in the fridge until you’re ready to start slicing it up. It definitely makes it easier to slice
- Wash and dry individual Cos or other lettuce leaves, to act as individual holders for each cheese.
- Place the leaves onto the platter. (see NOTES)
- Using a sharp knife, slice the cheese into similar sized slices, and place on the lettuce leaves.
- Wash the knife between cheeses, to avoid mixing the flavours.
- Work your way slowly through each cheese, arranging each as before
- Any really pungent cheese should be placed on its leaf, but kept separately from the platter. Remember to leave a space for it! Cover it with a piece of damp kitchen paper.
- Slice slowly, until you get the hang of it – you’ll be expert in no time, as I was.
- When you’re slicing rinded cheeses such as Brie, start at the thick end of the wedge, slicing along the sides – this means that everyone gets a bit of rind, and some of the soft bits too.
- When all the cheese is cut and placed on the platter, start to fill in the gaps with fruit and vegetables such as sliced peaches, groups of grapes, slices of Radish, thin sticks of celery, a handful of Nuts if you’re using them (think of guests with a Nut-allergy , and perhaps do a smaller , nut-free platter – the same applies to guests with a Celery allergy), Little pots of Relish, Red onion marmalade, some of the crackers (I put mine on a separate board) Some lovely Olives would be great too – truthfully, the more the merrier!
- Apples and Pears will have to be done nearer the serving time, and doused with lemon juice – that was too much trouble for me, although I love pears with cheese. Luckily, the ones in the supermarket were like turnips, so I couldn’t buy them!
- When you’ve placed as much cheese and decoration on the plate as you can, get your cold, damp, tea towel, and drape it carefully over the whole thing. Tuck the edges under the dish, and keep the whole thing in a cool place.
- Scribble out your cheese labels – I used plant pot markers, with the cheese name written on in pencil.
- If you don’t want to use lettuce leaves to hold the cheese, then thin sheets of baking parchment will do very nicely.
- I found having the tea towel covering the cheese was really useful when transporting it, as I was.
- I’d really advise against using clingfilm instead of the tea towel, as it just makes the cheese sweat – not a good look!
- I also added these little Mozzarella and tomato bites, again adding them at the last minute so that they didn’t spill juice all over the rest of the Cheese Board http://eatingforireland.com/recipe/mozzarella-tomato-and-basil-bites/